Cloister Talks – Best Read of the Summer

The summer is almost over and I have been intending to write a review on Jon Sweeney’s Cloister Talks: Learning From My friends the Monks, for most of it but as you know my summer has not gone as I intended so I am just getting around to it.

In this delightful book Sweeney relates some of the conversations that he has held over the last couple of decades with friends of his that are Cistercian and Benedictine monks.  To be honest though I am drawn to monastic practices I have never been drawn to read about life in a monastery until I picked up this book.  The insights gleaned from the wisdom and deep spirituality of Jon’s friends make this well written book a must read for anyone who wants to deepen their walk with God.  I plan to reread it again this weekend as Tom and I go on retreat.  I think it will help me develop a rhythm to life that looks more like the ancient way of Christianity rather than the often shallow rhythms we now model.

I love the way that Sweeney interweaves his conversations with living monks like Fathers Ambrose and Luke with comments and insights from the writings of Benedict and Merton.  This is a rich treasure trove of quotes, insights and understanding that has impacted me deeply.

One of my favourite quotes is from a conversation he had with Father Basil Pennington whose writings have taught me much about the contemplative life and centering prayer:

“The essence of the contemplative life and the monastic life is to give up yourself completely, to give yourself over completely to God and to others.  ANd regarding salvation – saving yourself is one of the more recent but persistent myths.  I’ll tell you it isn’t Catholic.  Jesus’s message was never about saving yourself, but about saving others.  We have to be interested in everyone’s salvation, not just our own, Basil said” p38

Another quote that really impacted me is:

The secret of your life begins and ends in silence.  Your ability to be a friend resides there too…. Silence is the school of love where you meet your Creator… It is in silence that you finally shut up the monkeys in your mind and the craziness in your life and listen to what he Father wants to say to your heart.  We listen separately but we are together…. god-as-love cannot wait for exquisite moments in your lives when the mood is just right.  God bombards us with love.  Love is going on in us all the time.

I hope that you enjoy Cloister Talks as much as I have.


3 Responses

  1. I picked it up today on your recommendation. Supported a local bookstore too (thought you’d appreciate that as well).


  2. Jamie,
    Hope you enjoy it

  3. […] Cloister Talks: Learning From MY friends the Monks by Jon Sweeney […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: